Labour won’t find its soul by navel gazing
… last year’s election defeat could be reduced to two key factors – Labour’s failure to pay enough attention to “economic competence”, and the fact that “the public did not perceive Ed Miliband as a credible prime minister”.
The Guardian, 1 January 2016 : When are Labour party ‘moderates’ going to do more than just moan?
But behind that there is a rejection of Labour’s attempts to hold power by trying to ape the Tories – they can never be “better Tories than the Tories”. If unrestrained global capitalism is the name of the game you might as well vote Tory.
But if unrestrained global capitalism is not the name of the game …
You are then joining the camp of those who have serious basic underlying doubts about the whole economic system and its fake veneer of democratic accountability. And that requires a different political solution to that offered by the terrible twins of (old-Blairite) New Labour and the Conservatives.
Britain’s post-1979 journey into a new reality of a shrunken welfare state, marketised public services, rising inequality and an impossible job market had reached a watershed with the deepening of austerity, and there was a need for a clear moral response.
Blairism will come to be seen as the final twitch of the Labour Party trying to mould itself to a political system and context that is being increasingly rejected by the electorate (usually by not voting for one of the two elitist parties).
The political context that is rejected is that we will all become rich (and therefore happier) by embracing corporate capitalism and enslaving ourselves to globalisation. The Americanisation of the employment market (and possibly others such as health and welfare) increasing makes our country a “have-ocracy”; “those wot have, gets” – whether it is power and wealth, or poverty.
The political system that is rejected is that we are “represented” and therefore we should support that system. Huge numbers know that their votes are meaningless and even many of those who have not realised that are beginning to realise that voting Labour does not mean that their concerns will be represented in Parliament.
That Labour (the membership) have elected Corbyn is possibly a recognition that Labour needs a different response – possibly based on historic values.
With the next election effectively lost – as much due to the gerrymandering of the forthcoming boundary review as the non electability of Labour – it is time to start, dare I say, a new “project”. A new project to connect the desires of the majority of the British people with mechanisms to give effective representation to those desires.
That means working with and alongside the British people – not navel gazing in committee rooms and then trying to foist “New (improved) Labour” on a sceptical public. It also means a willingness to give real power to the people so that we know that we can have a real effect.
Changing the voting system – to one that allows voters a real choice of candidates and ensures that parliament represents the political diversity of the country (STV being the obvious choice) is not only symbolic. It takes power away from party caucuses and gives it back to the people – no longer will the vast majority of our MPs be “selected” by party selection committees – they will be “elected” by the people. A party that is willing to acknowledge that the current system gives them too much power and that is willing to give up that power may find itself in a very powerful position.
A lot of progress could be made over eight or nine years – as long as Labour starts the project rather than getting distracted by the intellectually dead discredited leaders of the last decades.